This Saturday we had our first big meeting with the group of victims and displaced persons from La Ceja. The process of organizing this meeting was an incredibly frustrating learning experience but in the end, we had a good turn out.
The goal of the meeting was first and foremost to strengthen the sense of community of the group, to practice thinking and working together, and to start weekly home-groups. We had an icebreaker game, an hour of small-group to big-group Bible-study focused on the body of Christ, the call for such a body, and thinking about the relationship between faith and action. Organizing the weekly group did not work out in quite the way we were hoping, but a beginning was made.
It is beyond obvious, and I know, that although I think of things like the recent Free Trade Agreement being signed and conscientious objection as deeply linked to the present realities of my friends in La Ceja, this is not necessarily the case with them. When looking at Isaiah 58’s comments on “true fasting” I was blown out of the water that when asked “How does this passage compare with the socio-political situation in Colombia and La Ceja today?” participants didn’t mention corrupt governance, corporate exploitation, or structural wealth inequality but rather named personal sin, a failure of generosity and charity as core issues. The model for social change with almost all the partners I’m working with here is clearly Individual Change. That is, if individuals (and eventually all) in society could be converted to Christ and thereby instantly healed of their evil practices, we would have peace and/or justice. While I don’t totally disagree that this might be true, it is also not a model I am comfortable with or believe in. This is a struggle.
Sometimes I think about the work being done with the Sanctuary Peace Churches (ISP) and La Ceja group, especially it’s potential, and I’m very excited. What is absolutely true is that I have met some deeply loving, sacrificial, and beautiful people both in my visits/interviews of pastors for the ISP as well as on home visits in La Ceja. However, I am also having a personal struggle with submitting my natural desires of how and with whom to work with to the pattern and purpose of this current work. With that in mind, I would like to share with you a poem I wrote today:
Occupy Wallstreet or Prayer Vigils
There are streets inside my veins
screaming to be protested on
blood cells, red like a sickle and hammer, like
the radical clamor I keep at bay
New York is ablaze in a way
There are mohawks, suits, tattoos and
bongo drums that have started to taste like
the sweet and sour tang of Maybechangehistory
while I sit on a brown couch
calling pastors being called missionary.
I may go crazy.
I want my worship to be like David’s—
underwear-dancing down busy streets, ashes
sackcloth and banquets
I want my cry for peace to be loud, to proclaim
not just name, the new creation to make
Isaiah and MLK proud.
I throw my body forward, a butterfly
underwater, trying to push the impatient
activist out, reminding myself that
to rush ahead without
the base feels like freedom but ends up
Though I still have my doubts…
I pound it into my mind, again and again:
This is where it begins, and it never
slowly, we gather, sit in poorly lit rooms
learn and relearn, work around
the fact that you can’t read, and I fumble
speech but we are trying to
spring out of the ground
Our race is hobbled by a history of
bad theology, corrupted impunity and
the fact that the laundry must be hung,
bills paid, lives lived, that we are all
tragically and blessedly trapped
in our hum-drum humanity
But I want to see a stem stalk now
without the watering and waiting
without the land or the plow
My patience being forged in fires
of “not now”
Still, there are streets filled with screaming
inside of my limbs.
They refuse to shut up no
matter how much I run,
no matter how hard I swim.